Good news, Vista Media Center PC users will soon find a new option under the TV+Movies tile, as Netflix Watch Instantly streaming access is added directly to the interface. The soul crushingly bad news? A post on The Green Button informs that this does not apply to Media Center Extenders, so cheapskates hoping to get around the Xbox 360's Gold Xbox Live subscription requirement are still going to need those plugins and workarounds. This should go over much better than the InternetTV beta 2, but we're disappointed Microsoft's vision of TV on Your PC (as pointed out on its accompanying blogs, videos and assorted paraphernalia indicates) doesn't allow users to stretch their PC back to the TV at will. 'til that changes, check the gallery and after the break to see what awaits in Media Center once the update rolls out over the next 48 hours.
Update: We checked with Microsoft, and confirmed that, at least for now, this streaming only includes the same content as the browser experience - so no HD. As far as Windows 7 and / or RC1 support? No word yet.
Microsoft and Netflix Enhance Movie and TV Watching on the PC
Latest content addition offers more than 12,000 choices of movies and TV episodes that can be watched instantly on a PC with Windows.
REDMOND, Wash. - May 19, 2009 - Microsoft Corp. today announced that more than 12,000 movies and TV episodes from Netflix Inc., the world's largest online movie rental service, are now available to watch instantly on the PC using Windows Media Center on PCs with Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate. This newest content addition builds on Microsoft's goal to create a consistent experience on the PC for consumers to easily enjoy the entertainment of greatest interest to them.
With Windows Media Center, consumers no longer need to jump from Web site to Web site to find the TV shows, movies, sports and news they want to watch. Windows Vista customers who are also Netflix members can simply start Windows Media Center on their PC and then select the new Netflix tile under TV+Movies to begin streaming movies and TV episodes instantly. People can also search the entire Netflix library, manage both their instant and DVD Queues, and even filter searches by titles that are available to watch instantly. Windows Media Center takes advantage of the Netflix recommended category lists to make it even easier to quickly find the movies and TV shows that consumers want to watch. Conveniently, Netflix in Windows Media Center is also designed to work with any Windows Media Center-compatible remote control.
The availability of Netflix in Windows Media Center marks the second recent content milestone for Windows, following the March 2009 launch of the Sports Channel, which offers a variety of interactive sports content from CBSSports.com, FOX Sports, MSNBC.com and more.
"Netflix is excited that the majority of the Windows Vista users in the U.S. can now access a vast array of movies and TV episodes from Netflix through Windows Media Center," said Steve Swasey, vice president of corporate communications. "There's no better way to enjoy movies than with Netflix, and this latest offering is another milestone that gives Windows Media Center customers a great experience using the Netflix service."
The Netflix instant watching in Windows Media Center is powered by Microsoft Silverlight, one of the industry's most comprehensive and powerful solutions for the creation and delivery of applications and media experiences. The use of Silverlight means that customers will have more accessible, more discoverable and more secure experiences. Windows Media Center is available on Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate.
In addition to Windows Media Center users, Xbox 360 system owners already have access to watch movies and TV episodes instantly from Netflix via an Xbox LIVE Gold Membership. The offerings through both platforms allow customers to enjoy more than 12,000 movies and TV episodes.
"We're continuing to work with the top content providers today to make watching TV on the PC a mainstream experience for the future," said Craig Eisler corporate vice president of entertainment client software for the TV, Video and Music Business Group at Microsoft. "Consumers understand that content is the driving force when it comes to experiences, and with Netflix, we're underscoring our broader commitment to deliver a rich experience with Windows Media Center."